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Eeckhout, Gerbrand van den
Portrait of a Six-Year-Old Boy Holding an Apple Portrait of a Six-Year-Old Boy Holding an Apple
1656 1656

A young boy, dressed formally in a gray doublet and white shirt with a folded collar, leans jauntily over a balustrade. In his hand is an apple, with which he engages the viewer. His face exhibits the unrestrained happiness of youth, visible in the modest turning up of his lips and his smiling eyes. Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, a pupil and friend of Rembrandt van Rijn, executed this lively portrait of a six-year-old boy in 1656, as indicated by the inscription on the balustrade. Though he made several group portraits of children, Van den Eeckhout’s frontal presentation of the boy, leaning ever so slightly to his left as he extends his hand, and the immediate encounter with the viewer are unprecedented in his oeuvre. The apple is a particularly curious attribute. While it may refer to the maturation of a child through a good upbringing, as indicated in manuals of education manuals from the 17th century, it may also refer to a print by Rembrandt. In the master’s etching Jacob and Benjamin of around 1637, the youngest son of Jacob holds an apple. Perhaps this portrait depicts an unidentified “Benjamin” who was also the youngest of many children. Given the informal pose and documentary nature of the inscription, this child could be a member of the artist’s family.

 
Eeckhout, Gerbrand van den
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1621–Amsterdam, Netherlands 1674 Amsterdam, Netherlands 1621–Amsterdam, Netherlands 1674
Portrait of a Six-Year-Old Boy Holding an Apple Portrait of a Six-Year-Old Boy Holding an Apple
1656 1656
Oil on canvas Oil on canvas
53.5 x 42.5 cm
Gift of Isabel and Alfred Bader, 2016 Gift of Isabel and Alfred Bader, 2016
59-007

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